The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Wow, I am so conflicted with this book. On one hand, I love the worldbuilding. On the other hand this book felt like it dragged and as a result didn’t have a lot going on with it. So I found myself both loving it and feeling like it was chugging along when it shouldn’t have been.
Let’s start with what I loved. That worldbuilding. When the novel started I found myself enamored by how the bits and pieces of the world was revealed. it was fascinating and compelling as we learned through conversations and short asides within conversations and observations. It was really interesting in those parts. I wanted more. Learning through her travels was fascinating.
The worldbuilding took a turn for the worst once she reached her castle. The world building certainly continued, but it was no longer quite as elegantly woven into actions and dialogue. Instead we got a lot of information that was delivered through thoughts and more thoughts. Not only that but I felt like a lot of the information was a little bit less compelling. In fact some of the information fleshed out the world and characters a bit, but there also felt like there were things that didn’t drive the story or characters forward.
This is largely how I felt about the large middle section of the novel. There were certainly events that were occurring, but there weren’t many. They felt few and far between. Also the constant attention on everything made things that could have been more shocking, just mundane. Spoiler: Imagine if The Fetch just dropped off Thomas’s head out of no where rather than seeing their confrontation first. We already knew that The Fetch would kill him without seeing that confrontation. End Spoiler. I just wanted things to feel a little bit more drastic. Nothing ever felt like it was quite urgent. Things in her kingdom never felt like it was falling apart even though you knew it would be.
Kelsea was an interesting character. She was self-assured, but not cocky. She was an interesting person to follow. In fact, I preferred staying in her POV out of all the characters. That said it felt odd her behavior. This is a girl who was raised knowing she would be queen, but treated like any ordinary young girl. As such, it felt strange how Kelsea swung into the role of queen. So quickly she fell into this role with confidence that almost felt like over-confidence.
I didn’t get the Red Queen either. She initially came off as a crazy bitch. Then she came off as super timid. I don’t know, it just seemed odd to me. I feel like I missed something, but I felt so laden with information in the middle that I may have just been lost.
All of that said, I am definitely going to read the next book in the series. I just hope that there will be more personal relationships explored beyond Kelesa and Mace.